Every time I go to Basil, I -not so- discreetly eye what everyone seated next to me – and even a little further: Foodies, what do you expect?- is having. Yesterday it was those luscious poached eggs on toast with saute spinach and home fries, which two young men were eating with great relish, dunking more gorgeous whole grain toast into the runny yolks, letting it all go down unhurriedly with cute glass jugs of tea. Another day it was a fabulous roasted whole Branzino with roasted tomatoes and fennel, which my own friend had ordered, and which she was eyeing warily. What’s wrong? Come on, it looks great, I urged her. I know I know she said, but, oyoyoy, it has bones. Of course it has bones: Duh, it’s a fish! But the good news is, I offered to bone it for her, confident that once I split it right down the center (with a fork and knife and nothing more) the center bone would come right off, obediently and in one piece. And come off it did. Pretty soon a couple other customers looked as if they were going to ask me to do it for them as well. Come on people, bone your fish and enjoy it! This one was melt-in-your-mouth fresh and tender. On a date I had with two dear Moroccan friends, we feasted on a dish of grilled sardines (boned this time: boning the tiny fish ourselves would have been pure minutae: No thank you!) You should have seen us, devouring the beloved food of our childhood. In Morocco no one could ever complain about their neighbors grilling sardines and smelling up their balconies, because they all…. grill sardines and smell up their balconies!
Once for dessert we had an assortment of ice cream on a disk of meringue: The ice cream was heavenly, home made of course: chocolate, praline, and vanilla: You’ll never say plain vanilla after you have tasted this one! There’s also a basil ice cream, pleasantly weird. Next time I am checking out that funnel cake my niece was raving about, and the warm chocolate walnut cake.
Coffee: Coffee lovers, do as I do: Order your coffee with an extra shot (decaf or regular) and steamed milk. The result is more coffee less milk, and delicious! The extra shot will cost you a dollar, and well spent too!
I saved my great favorite for the end: Basil is the only place I succomb to an order of Pizza: A have a German friend who tells me back home they had a saying, “if you are going to eat chazir let it drip down your elbows!” You have guessed it: My chazir, my most Verbotten treat, is this to-die-for pizza they serve at Basil, with a crust so flaky and charred and blistered my daughter and my husband poked their fingers into the holes the crust naturally formed in their wood-burning oven, the restaurant’s glorious centerpiece. It is topped with wild mushrooms and goat cheese, and drizzle with truffle oil. I ask you: what could possibly come closer to heaven than this? So: Don’t miss it, you hear? And don’t order anything else when you order it, not only because it’s a tough act to follow, but also because it comes in a generous main-course size.
I can’t say I was surprised to see a few tables occupied by non-observant, even not-Jewish, customers: And why not? Good food is reason enough! They were even enjoying the wines, which doesn’t surprise me either, Kosher wines winning these days in so many blind competitions. In my catering years, I used to cater (and still do on occasion) to people who could well afford to eat anywhere, but came to me just for the food, so I can relate!